Looking to increase your fitness, without spending lots of time or money? Consider adding a little running! Running can be done anywhere, requires little equipment, and gets you outside in all weather. Start by adding a minute of running to your walk. Studies have proven that even 5 minutes of running, can have a significant impact on your health.

Physical Benefits of Running

  • Builds strength in muscles and connective tissue counteracting the impact of aging
  • Assists with weight loss and weight management
  • Improves heart health which can prevent heart disease
  • Prevents and helps manage high blood pressure
  • Reduces the impact of diabetes by helping to manage blood sugar levels
  • Improves asthma symptoms by increasing lung and bronchi health
  • Improves bone density with weight bearing exercise.

Mental Health Benefits of Running

  • Reduces and helps you better manage stress
  • Releases endorphins which can act as anti-depressants
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Gets you outside which improves mood
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Allows for better decision making and creativity
  • Can help control addiction
  • Keeps your brain healthy and slows the onset of cognitive decline

Volunteer or cheer on a friend at one of the many running races near your home. Notice all the different ages, body types, sizes, and abilities. Running is accessible to almost everyone. Talk with your doctor before adding running to your program and start with a base of aerobic fitness from walking etc. Set a goal of based on your current fitness level. Maybe it is just to run for 5 minutes consecutively.

Combine walking with running to start, gradually increasing the overall running time. This allows muscles to strengthen and adapt, prevents injuries, and makes running enjoyable. Run for time rather than distance. Your local track is a great place to start providing a soft, safe surface.

How to Start

  1. Start each workout with a functional warm-up, targeting all the large muscles in your body with gentle movement.
  2. Walk for 10 minutes to complete your warm-up.
  3. Begin a series of five times1-minute run intervals, with a 1-minute walk between. Run 1-minute, walk 1-minute, 5 times.
  4. End the workout with another 10-minute walk to cool down.

Try this same workout 2 or 3 times for the first two weeks. If your body adjusts quickly, increase the total running time to 8 or 10-minutes with 2 or 3-minute running intervals. Gradually increase the total run time over 8 weeks. Walking breaks lengthen the workouts and allow for recovery between run intervals.

Keep your running pace comfortable and shuffle, with your foot landing under your body rather than out in front. Stay upright, with your eyes focused on the horizon. Relax your face, arms, and upper body. Your arm swing should be back and forth rather than across. Dress in layers! Running will raise your body temperature despite the winter temps.

Join the legions of fit runners that have adopted this slow, sensible approach. Once you have experienced the ease of running, and the amazing fitness benefits, you will be hooked. Cross the finish line of a 5K and it’s official-you are a runner!

by Christy Coughlin, Wellness Coach

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